I remember one time, when I went back home for Diwali after I had started working. My brother was going to come too, and my mother started to make shakkarparas as a welcome treat, since this was always one of his favorite meetha snacks. When she got to the part where the fried paras have to be turned in the gradually-crystallizing sugar syrup(this can be quite tiring), she let out a sigh of exhaustion and said – “there is no one else I will do this for anymore, except Bittu”.
I understood what she meant only when I made shakkarparas all by myself for the first time 3 years ago, for the “Cuisine du Monde” day at Indira’s kindergarten.
It sure is hard work, but well worth the trouble when you see little faces tentatively munching first a small half of one para to try what it tastes like, then coming back for a handful.
Here’s my mother’s recipe for this delicious treat.
500 gms of refined flour
220-250 gms of oil
300-400 gms of milk
500 gms of sugar
Add a pich of salt to the flour and then gradually mix in the oil.
Now make a stiff dough using 300-400 gms of lukewarm milk.
Divide the dough into 4-5 equal-sized balls and roll out each to a thickness of 1/4 cm.
Cut the sheets you thus obtain into little squares (no bigger than 3cm by 3cm or they could break when you are turning them in the syrup, in the next step) and fry these until they turn a light brown, in medium-hot oil.
While you fry the paras, dissolve the sugar in one cup (200ml measure) of water in a large pan (like a wok) and heat till a 2-strand syrup is formed or till you start to see a slight deposit of sugar forming on the side of the pan.
Now add the fried squares to this syrup and toss them gently in the syrup over a moderately hot setting until the syrup has completely dried up. At this point, the squares will be well-coated with an almost powdery deposit of crystallized sugar.
Make sure to stir the shakkarparas from time to time to keep them from sticking to each other, while the syrup dries.
Guaranteed to please young and old alike !!